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Whaling fleet prepares to kill Pacific whales

8 November 2005

Japan's whaling fleet prepares to kill Pacific whales

New Zealand is deeply alarmed at news Japan's whaling fleet has sailed to commence its newly expanded scientific whaling programme, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

"Hunting whales is like hunting tigers, gorillas or kiwi. New Zealanders regard it as unjustifiable, and unfortunately it is about to happen on an even larger scale," Mr Carter said.

"This year marks the start of a new scientific whaling programme by Japan which will see more than double the number of whales killed than under Japan's previous programmes. For the first time, the magnificent humpback and fin whales are to be included on Japan's menu of scientific study from 2007.

"Humpback and fin whales are severely depleted whales species, and New Zealand is very worried about the impact of further hunting on their numbers," Mr Carter said.

"To make matters worse, the fleets of Japan and other Northern Hemisphere nations are once again travelling outside of their own waters and all the way down to Antarctica to kill their scientific quota.

"The whales they take could be the same whales that migrate through the Pacific region, and the same ones New Zealanders and tourists alike enjoy watching off our coast.

"Most of the global community accept that killing whales is not necessary to study whale populations. Yet Japan continues to do so," Mr Carter said.

"Scientific whaling is only legal because the provisions in the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (IWC) are out of step with modern conservation approaches. New Zealand is working to remedy this.

"In the meantime, we hope Japan and other whaling nations will come to realise the harm they are doing to fragile whale populations, and halt this year's hunt. There is still time," Mr Carter said.

ENDS

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